The Unsung Boogie-Woogie Christmas Queens: The Andrews Sisters

Their sweet harmonies are instantly recognizable, sparkling along with the sleigh bell sounds of some of the most enduring tunes of Christmas, but the Andrews Sisters may be lesser known among the holiday greats.

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The trio of vocalists—consisting of sisters LaVerne, Maxene, and Patty—reached their musical heights during World War II with several military-themed hits like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me).” However, Christmas tunes are where they shined, often alongside famed festive crooner Bing Crosby, big bandleader Guy Lombardo, or just the three of them.

Their animated, swinging harmonies have the ability to transport listeners past the holiday season to a different time entirely. Here are five songs from the unsung boogie-woogie Christmas queens, the Andrews Sisters.

1. “Christmas Island”

Crystal clear against hypnotizing horns, the sisters lilt along with Lombardo and His Royal Canadians in “Christmas Island.” Their lyrics casually roll off the tongue, but are vivacious and energized at the same time. The cheerful, tropical holiday classic is overflowing with cheer because of their voices alone.

2. “Mele Kalikimaka”

Crosby’s classic voice leisurely shuffles with the beat of “Mele Kalikimaka,” enticing listeners for the Andrews Sisters. The trio delivers the chorus with a bright spunkiness, effortlessly animating every word.

3. “Merry Christmas Polka”

Alongside Lombardo, the Andrews Sisters are the focal point in this head-spinning holiday tune. The dizzying “Merry Christmas Polka” is a good time tune as the trio sing with a party in their voices, excitement hanging on every word.

4. “Jingle Bells”

There are been innumerable versions of “Jingle Bells,” but few things touch the snappy, jazzed-up Crosby rendition with the Andrews Sisters at his side. Sped up like a racing sleigh, the crooner’s cover has an urgency to it, but the sisters offer a spirited reprieve with their bright, buoyant chorus.

5. “Winter Wonderland”

Another frequently covered Christmas classic, “Winter Wonderland” doesn’t find the Andrews Sisters straying away from tradition, but instead nailing a sure-voiced, solid rendition of the tune. Their strong, close harmonies are unshakable, but still, gift the song with a certain light and playfulness.

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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